Mardaani tries hard, but falls rather flat
Director: Pradeep Sarkar
Starring: Rani Mukerji, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Anil George
The trailer seemed promising. Rani Mukerji plays Shivani Shivaji Roy, a senior inspector at the crime branch in Mumbai. She is a tough-as-nails cop up against the kingpin of a gang that is involved in child trafficking.
She is brave and fearless, sports a Lara Croft-esque hair style and is unfazed even when faced with the toughest situation. The trailer gives a feeling of a film that may be commercial but has a social message. However, the actual execution falls flat.
The director Pradeep Sarkar, whose debut film Parineeta earned both critical acclaim and commercial success, now has another miss to his name, after Laaga Chunari Main Daag and Lafangey Parindey.
Roy's fight against child trafficking seems to be limited to a teenage orphan named Pyaari, whom she had previously rescued from a railway station where she was being sold off by her uncle. She discovers that there is an organised gang operating across the country that kidnaps girls from schools, streets and even shelters. They are beaten up and forced into prostitution not only in India, but also across the world. The second half of the film, when the action shifts to Delhi, has more edge-of-the seat moments than the first, even with all the unnecessary drama.
Mukerji does well in the film with what she is asked to do. Even though the movie is supposed to be serious, a few scenes come across as ridiculous and are reminiscent of 1980s Bollywood cinema, with unnecessary action and a slow-motion walk of victory.
Mardaani is supposed to be Mukerji's film, but the young actor Tahir Raj Bhasin, who plays the criminal kingpin Karan Rastogi, is absolutely fantastic and is definitely one to watch in the future. He plays the calm, suave, heartless and cunning Rastogi with flair and stands out among a large ensemble cast.
Another actor who stands out is Anil George, who plays Vakil, Rastogi's Man Friday.
Even though the film sets out to tackle exploitation, the scenes depicting girls being turned into slaves are not done tastefully. The scenes might be there to drive home a point, but they just seem in bad taste.
Is the film completely unwatchable? No. If one goes in with no expectations, then it is an OK one-time watch. But don't go in looking for excellence - there is bound to be disappointment.
Updated: August 23, 2014 04:00 AM